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31 story condo tower to fuel downtown Tampa

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Condos may fuel Tampa downtown makeover efforts

By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer

Published September 1, 2004

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TAMPA - For the past two years, Mayor Pam Iorio has been talking about turning downtown Tampa into a bustling residential community.

Now she has the blueprint for a project she believes could make it happen.

Atlanta developer Novare Group and Tampa's Intown Group announced plans Tuesday to develop 400 high-rise condominium homes on the southeast corner of Ashley and Polk streets. They're buying the land from TECO Energy, which has a parking lot and garage on the property next to its headquarters.

TECO and the developers wouldn't reveal the sale price of the land or the cost to build the tower.

TECO has owned the city block for more than 20 years. The parking garage hasn't been used by TECO employees since early 2003 because it's unsafe, said TECO spokesman Ross Bannister.

Construction on the 31-story building is scheduled to begin in 2005 and finish by the end of 2006.

The one- and two-bedroom homes, with price tags starting at $170,000, should appeal to first-time home buyers in the 25-to-40 age range, said John Long, senior vice president for Novare Group. They will feature granite counter tops, 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, reserved parking and upscale fitness and community centers. The building will have more than 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space.

It's the first major residential project on the north end of downtown, where city leaders are trying to encourage a cultural arts district. The condos will be within walking distance of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and Tampa Theatre.

They also mark the entry of Atlanta-based Novare Group into the Tampa market. The company has had success with urban residential projects in Atlanta, and in the past year launched projects in Nashville and Charlotte, N.C.

Bannister said TECO talked with several buyers interested in the property, but sold to Intown and Novare because they were ready to move quickly.

"We are really excited about Tampa," Long said. .

The downtown area is still sleepy, he said, but his company is impressed with city leaders' efforts to wake it up. "They're starting to do the right things to make that happen," he said. "We want to be a part of it."

Iorio said she sees the project as a springboard for her plans to entice people to call downtown home. "It's in a price range that's going to appeal to a lot of younger buyers," said Iorio, who said she has been concerned about the high prices of homes slated for the Channel District. There, condominiums start at $250,000 and climb past $1-million.

"It's whatever the market will bear," she said. "But I'd like to see some greater diversity."

Janet Zink can be reached at 813 226-3401 or [email protected]

http://stpetetimes.com/2004/09/01/H...uel_Tampa.shtml

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31-Story Condo Is Planned Downtown

By DAVE SIMANOFF [email protected]

Published: Sep 2, 2004

TAMPA - An Atlanta-based developer has set its sights on a new condominium tower for downtown Tampa.

Novare Group is under contract to buy the parking deck and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of Ashley Drive and Zack Street from TECO Energy for an undisclosed price. The company is proposing to build a 31-story tower with 390 condominium units, with prices and amenities geared toward first-time home buyers in their 20s and 30s.

John Long, Novare's senior vice president and chief investment officer, said plans for the condominium tower still are being hashed out, and that the number of floors or units may change.

The company, which still needs approval from the city's zoning board, would like to break ground early next year in order to have the tower ready for residents by the end of 2006, he said.

Prices are expected to range from $170,000 to $240,000 for one-bedroom units, and from $260,000 to $330,000 for two- bedroom units, Long said.

The project joins at least five other condominium buildings in the works for downtown Tampa. Most developers have focused their attention at the nascent Channel District near the Florida Aquarium and not the central business district. Three major high-rise condominium projects, each with two towers, are planned for the Channel area.

Downtown Tampa boosters said they welcome the Novare project.

``I like to see the validation that all of downtown is a valuable place for residential development,'' said Christine Burdick, president of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. ``Every bit of unused land that's put to good use, I think, is good for downtown.''

The downtown Tampa project represents Novare's first development in Florida.

``We've done projects in Atlanta, and when we were looking for various markets to branch out into. We kind of felt like Tampa was one of the next great cities that met our criteria,'' he said, citing the area's job growth, population growth, housing prices and demographics.

Long said it's too early to predict what the condominium tower will cost to develop, as plans are still being revised and changed. Neither he nor TECO officials would disclose the purchase price for the land.

As tenants begin moving in Novare's condominiums, employees at neighboring TECO Energy might be moving out of their office building. The utility company has asked developers for proposals for a new headquarters in the Tampa area, although not necessarily downtown. ``Our preference is to stay here in downtown,'' said Ross Bannister, a spokesman for Tampa Electric.

TECO officials are still receiving proposals.

Reporter Dave Simanoff can be reached at (813) 259-7762.

http://www.tampatrib.com/Business/MGBCU2C6MYD.html

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